Time to act on your carbon footprint

31 July 2008
Time to act on your carbon footprint

Hospitality businesses are reportedly wasting £540,000 a day through poor energy efficiency, and Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Hotel Carbon Index Company, says operators can no longer ignore their carbon footprint

I'm often asked why hotels should be concerned with carbon footprint at a time when there's a consumer slowdown. The most important thing any business needs to do when there's a slowdown is to make sure it's managing itself as well as it can. I'm not suggesting that, in times of plenty, good management doesn't matter, but that's when even the best company tends to relax a little.

The question should actually be: "How can hotels not be concerned about their carbon footprint when there's a slowdown?" The answer comes from every chapter of the management textbook and spans economics, psychology, commercial sense, stakeholder relationships, the environment and strategic planning.

The economics and psychology are simple: energy is one of the main areas of cost for most hotels, therefore focusing on lowering your footprint will result in lower energy bills. And by focusing internally on the environmental benefit rather than cost, staff will naturally want to support initiatives and relate achievement of targets to personal contributions.

The commercial answer is also very straightforward. Look at the number of blue-chip companies now committed to reducing their carbon footprint. Management has responsibility to its shareholders, clients, staff and suppliers. Reducing energy consumption, thus lowering environmental impact and creating less pollution, ticks boxes for all of them.

The International Panel on Climate Change says we have 15 years to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. If it grows unchecked, that's how long it will take to precipitate a 3°C temperature rise and all sorts of changes to the world.

If you think your hotel will still be in business in 15 years, you have a responsibility to act now to protect against the mother of all downturns.

It makes you think, doesn't it?

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